R.E.M. Listening Club


Love Monty! Agree that Star Me Kitten feels like one track too many

Always really disliked Sidewinder Sleeps, but appreciate I might be in the minority there


Woaahhh. I love Star Me Kitten. It feels like a much needed break in an album filled with huge songs. Imo it’s necessary for the benefit of the album if not outstanding on its own.


Treated myself to a vinyl pressing of this and I’m falling in love with it all over again. I avoided listening to automatic for about two decades as I rinsed it so badly for years but enough time has passed now I guess.

Drive is still quite possibly their best song. Radio song excepted they REALLY knew how to open an album
The snare sound on Monty is mint.
The “Nescafe and ice” line is really fucking irritating. Stipe was so politically aware and active… Nestle kill babies dude.


Never really thought of that Necafe line that way but yeah, it does seem out of place. I agree on Drive, it’s absolute killer.


Once we’re done with rem… What about doing the same sort of thing with Tom Waits?


Are you a big fan? What I’ve heard I’ve liked but I’ve never delved, though I can imagine it’s quite rewarding


Yup I am! And he has a similar decades spanning genre shifting appeal to rem. Could be worthwhile if people were up for it I reckon. This thread has been fab, will be sad when it ends at New Adventures




Gets my vote, especially the thread comes with it’s own PA and excellent light show.


*“one of REM’s five best albums, Collapse Into Now”


I’m with you on Ignoreland being the only weak point of the album - the song itself may be fine, but I dunno, I can’t get past the shinier Document production to form any other opinion.

It’s full of songs that are so close to being standards now, that I can’t imagine either criticising them or anyone actually sitting down and writing them. It’d be like critiquing Ain’t No Sunshine or something…

They continue their tradition of great openers and closers - and even the ‘lesser’ songs on the record work well to contrast the big numbers. Agree with @furryboy on that.

I know it divides opinion, but personally still think Sidewinder is great - love the lyrics and Stipe’s pop culture references. R.E.M. doing a big pop song on their own terms.


Yeah, I’d been thinking about whether there would be an appetite to continue after this runs its course - and potential candidates. Low and Bjork were two that sprung to mind, but Tom Waits is a great suggestion too.

Been on a bit of a binge of his back catalogue over the last couple of weeks. Some great stuff from his Asylum era - I keep meaning to work out the piano parts to Martha and Grapefruit Moon - and then I gave Real Gone a good noisy blast too. Really underrated record of his I think.


Stuck Automatic on for our long drive up north. The wife has been subjected to lots of REM over the past few weeks, she knows this one well (though I think she likes Green most…).

AFTP. I haven’t listened to this in years, glad I did. It’s a great record. Quite unusual for REM at this point. Very few rock songs, only really Ignoreland, though Man on the Moon rocks live. This might be why Ignoreland is on there, did the band feel like it needed it? I’d say Ignoreland is weakest by far. I don’t dislike it though, it’s merely out of place, which speaks volumes for the general high quality present throughout.

The song I don’t really want to hear is Everybody Hurts. Heard it so much I’m bored by it. I’m ways it’s a but crap, it’s musically and lyrically its soo simple. But that’s its strength, its powerful, it has broad appeal, its anthemic, is was the first song I learnt to finger pick on guitar.

Elsewhere it’s all good.

Drive is one of the all time best openers, not just for REM. It feels like the culmination of everything they’ve done and learnt. A finely crafted summary of REM. Perfect.

Find the river is one of the finest last tracks, again not just for REM. I’d be incredibly proud of this song if I were them. Incredibly melody, sound, production, arrangement, great lyrics from Stipe. A real gem.

Man on the moon is easily top 3 REM. Again, feels like they are nailing their own sound after years. I love the little Elvis impersonation.

Night swimming! Top 5 REM track? Stone cold classic. But also really unusual musically with the prominent piano melody but what’s great here is how well it goes with the lyrics. Nostalgic, reflective, remembering a past when REM were young. One of those tracks where it all works together so well.

Sidewinder is a great single. What strikes me about it is how clear Stipe is. This is the end of his development from the nervous, insecure, mumbling oddity from Murmur, to rock star icon. He’s not hiding anymore, he wants to be out the front, clear as a bell, yelling out his words, and he’s comfortable with it all.

Elsewhere we have songs that while not classics, are way more than filler and are genuinely good. If anything they need to take a step back and let the record breathe. They paint the albums full picture and feed its overall concept of death, mourning sadness.

It’s seems so odd now that an album with such a downbeat the could have been so successful. It deserves it. Prob their first album where I don’t dislike any tracks. Only Everybody hurts makes me want to skip but that’s down to being overplayed. I used to love it.

It was their commercial peak and I can see it being a creative peak. It satisfies the fans, critics and casuals all at the same time, a rare feat.


Oh, by the way, how good are the strings (both arrangement- and production-wise) on Automatic? Fuck me. Incredible.


I often wonder why that was, how much was a conscious decision to up the strings? Was it the producer? Do you think they knew they were making a career defining album when they were making it? I mean it must be so difficult to get proper perspective as a band, to be objective. But sometimes I guess they can tell they’re all riding high on confidence.


I don’t know, but it was an amazing decision whoever made it.


The string arrangements are faultless. Even on something like Everybody Hurts which none of us probably feel the need to ever hear again - it’s still a great moment when they come in at the two minute mark.

You know it’s John Paul Jones of Led Zep who did them don’t you? This blows my mind a little bit :exploding_head:


Apparently Stipe had the melody for Nightswimming, then Buck and Mills each wrote an arrangement for it - and Stipe picked the one he likes best. I can’t imagine it without that piano refrain?

It’s so straightforward too with just the intro part and then the main six bar pattern repeating over and over for the entire song (apart from the intro line coming back in a couple of times) - somehow it doesn’t get tired.


The strings sound incredible throughout the album. John Paul Jones arranged the strings.


In the recent documentary with the deluxe edition, Stipe suggests that songs like ‘Ignoreland’ and ‘Sidewinder…’ were added because the consensus was that the album was a bit too downbeat. However, does say that those songs are his least favourite on the album.